Thanksgiving Day: More Than Just Being Thankful

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Thanksgiving Day

More Than Just Being Thankful

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Thank you. Those two words are among the most important and appreciated in any language. He who does a good deed is often satisfied to hear "thank you" as his only reward. It's too bad the phrase is so underused.

Gratitude is the mother of all virtues. That makes sense. Gratitude-a grateful attitude-inspires other good attitudes. It's hard to have a bad attitude when you are feeling grateful.

Ingratitude is probably the most prevalent sin. It is easier to know pity than feel appreciation. It seems easier to criticize than compliment. Griping, grumbling and being grouchy are just doing what comes naturally. They are part of our negative, self-centered nature.

Some people rarely say thank you. You wonder what holds them back. We should have developed the habit of expressing our gratitude by the time we were 3 years old.

Most people probably regard themselves as being properly thankful. If they really are full of thanks, that's wonderful. But thankfulness must be expressed to others to be worth much. Giving thanks is much better than just being thankful. Giving thanks is good for both parties, the giver and the receiver.

Thankfulness tends to be passive. Thanksgiving is active. Thanks are something that need to be given away-making everyone richer. Note that the national holiday Americans celebrate is called Thanksgiving Day, not Be Thankful Day.

Many Thanksgiving Day celebrations undoubtedly involve precious little thankfulness, much less giving thanks. For many the holiday has become known as Turkey Day, characterized more by gluttony than gratitude. Meanwhile people in poor, undeveloped countries look on the United States as incredibly rich and self-indulgent instead of thankful for its abundance, comforts and conveniences.

Thankfulness oriented outward

When people regard themselves as thankful, it is probably more accurate to say they are pleased or happy, rather than thankful. People tend to give themselves the credit for most of the good things they have-even though true thankfulness certainly implies that one is thankful to others.

For example, anyone could say, "I'm thankful I have a good job" and simply mean he is glad to have that job. How much better it would be to think of the many people throughout his life who have helped prepare him and helped make his good job possible. Even better would be for him to thank as many of those people as possible.

Being glad can be self-centered. Being thankful is other-centered. Giving thanks, in contrast to self-centeredness, is oriented outwardly, expressing our gratitude toward others.

We should make it a habit to thank people. When we do we are sure to make people happier.

Are you thankful for your education? Thank your parents and a whole host of teachers. Are you thankful for your freedoms? We owe much to our forefathers and statesmen. Are we thankful for our health? We can thank your parents and a farmer or rancher. Are you thankful you have regular trash pickup? Thank your garbage man.

Wouldn't it be nice if companies had a bigger need for thank-you departments than they have for complaint departments?

The Bible encourages giving thanks

When it comes to the need to be thankful, the Bible emphasizes action over passivity. In the New King James Version of the Bible, the word thankful appears only three times, and unthankful appears only twice. The number of times both words are used is surprisingly small.

However, thanksgiving occurs 31 times, and the phrases give thanks or give You [God] thanks occur 43 times. The words thank and God occur in the same verse 15 times; thanks and God are used together 23 times; thank or thanks and Lord appear together 43 times.

The word praise implies a big thank-you given with an abundance of admiration and respect. The world would be a better place with more praise and less criticism. If parents praised their children more, they would need far less punishment. If we praised our families and coworkers, the workplace would be far less tense and would experience more peace and productivity. We humans thrive and strive better under the warm sunshine of praise.

The Bible stresses that the greatest praise should go to God. Praise and God occur in the same verse 57 times, and praise and Lord occur together 97 times. Are you thankful for a beautiful day, a gorgeous rainbow, a spectacular sunset? Tell God about it! Thank the One who created it all!

We should be thankful for all we've been given, and express it. This is what Thanksgiving Day is supposed to be about. Remember to be thankful for your country and its blessings. Do you express it? Tell your family and friends how much you appreciate them, and remember to give the greatest share of credit and praise to the Great Benefactor, the Creator and Giver of all blessings (James 1:17 James 1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss, neither shadow of turning.
American King James Version×

Let's make every day a day of giving thanks—a thanksgiving day. I'm going to try harder, and I hope you'll join me. Come on. You can say it: Thank you.

Thanks for listening.